School chief explains why system spends less on Fairhope students

In a mass email to parents today, Superintendent Lee responded to complaints from a Fairhope parent claiming the county school system spends $1,500 less per student in the Fairhope feeder pattern than for students in the rest of the county.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

All parents:

In a public meeting with parents interested in the International Baccalaureate Program, at Fairhope High School, a statement was made by a parent that Baldwin County Schools annually expend $1,500 less per student in the Fairhope feeder pattern than for students in the rest of the county.

Average Per Pupil Expenditure is the average amount the school system expends per child for his or her education. It is calculated by the dividing the amount annually expended by the number of students in the county. Neither debt nor capital (building) construction costs are included in the total. ??The Average Per Pupil Expenditure varies from school to school and feeder pattern to feeder pattern for several reasons. Most importantly, the characteristics of the student population in a school and the needs of those children drive the amount of dollars expended per student.

Federal and state laws dictate these additional expenditures where children are most needy.??For example, schools with a high number of special needs children will reflect a higher per pupil investment because additional services are mandated. And in those schools that have a higher number of students coming from economically disadvantaged homes, a larger amount of federal dollars are expended there.

Fairhope does, indeed, have the lowest per pupil expenditure in the county. It also has one of the lowest percentages of students receiving free and reduced lunches. Its enviable economic climate means that no schools are Federal “Title Schools”. As a result, there are no Federal Title monies to include in its Per Pupil Expenditure calculation as other feeder patterns have.

A less obvious impact on per student expenditures is that older school facilities will be less energy efficient and have higher operating costs that are included in the calculations.??The Board of Education has expended more than $54.5 million in constructing new school facilities in the Fairhope feeder pattern in recent years, a very large investment in Fairhope children’s education that is not tallied into the Per Pupil Expenditure. Further, these new buildings are energy efficient and naturally require less maintenance. Subsequently, the energy component of the Per Pupil expenditure is lower.?

I applaud those who are attempting to study numbers related to Fairhope schools; However, I kindly ask that all of us seek to gain understanding about information before it is presented without including proper perspective.

Sincerely,

Alan T. Lee?
Superintendent
Baldwin County Public Schools?